“Rasam, rasam, rasam…”, cries out the server at an upanayanam function for my cousin in Bangalore. The food so far had been uniformly hotter (chilli hot) than our taste buds were used to at home and tongues were on fire.
“Rasam, rasam…” We – my brother an I – call out hoping for a sweet juice – preferably lemon – of which we were inordinately fond, being able to down a jugful in a few minutes flat. “Rasam” in Telugu meant juice and being seven and eight years old, respectively, we had no clue that it meant anything else in another language! Imagine our chagrin, when instead of something long and cool to quench the fire on the tongues, what we got was a ladleful of hot, VERY HOT – chaaru (Telugu equivalent of the Tamil rasam) poured onto our rice. Neither of us was particularly fond of chaaru and to add to our woes, we had to chase this runny imposter all over a leaf. Sequel: We – and our clothes – needed a good rinse after!
My mom, being a kind-hearted sort of person, managed to keep her amusement in check but not the rest of the cousins – who had a field day hooting ‘rasam’ after us!
“Juice”, particularly lime juice, remains a favourite to this day and there is no better way to make it than the lime-mint cooler that i learnt from the chef at the restaurant chain “Sangeetha”.
Lime mint cooler
Lemons – 2
Fresh mint – 1 tbsp
Sugar (or substitute) – 4-5 tsp
Salt – one pinch
Ginger – 1/2 cm piece
Ice – 6-8 cubes
Water – 3 cups
Chop the lemons into 8-10 pieces each – DO NOT remove seeds or skin or anything – most of the essential oils are in the skin and you get a real lemony hit.
Put all the ingredients above, reserving 2 glasses of water, into a mixer and whip on high speed – for 2-3 minutes. Strain out (don’t press the residue – the juice will become too bitter) and add the rest of the water. Drink immediately. If you leave it and drink later, the juice turns bitter. Drink immediately – and you are in lemonade heaven! If you have guests coming, just get everything ready, including chopped lemons, in the mixer and leave in the frig till you are ready to whip – it, not the guests!
Oh, and btw, congratulations – you are now ready to open your first business venture – a lemonade stand!